The USC Pacific Asia Museum’s permanent collection of objects from Asia and the Pacific Islands, spanning more than 5000 years of history. The museum’s permanent collection follows this mission and aims to collect, conserve, exhibit and interpret objects from East Asia, South and Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands. For almost five decades, the museum built its collection largely from the generous donation of many collectors and donors. Since the museum’s founding in 1971, its collection has been carefully built through a combination of purchases and strategically targeted donations. Southern California-based collectors and communities have been central to the building of the collection. Our use of the collection, through exhibition, loans, and research, is driven by our mission to provide a dialogue rooted in intercultural understanding among communities. Through its collections, the USC Pacific Asia Museum creates inspiring encounters with the art, history, and culture of Pacific Asia to promote intercultural understanding in the service of elevating our shared sense of humanity. Visitors to our museum have the opportunity to expand their understanding of one of the most dynamic and diverse parts of the world while also having the opportunity to find connections to their own unique experiences and interests.

Highlights of our permanent collection include the Harari Collection of Japanese paintings and drawings from the Edo period (1600-1868); significant holdings in Chinese ceramics and textiles; one of the largest collections of Japanese folk paintings outside Japan; a South Pacific tapa (bark cloth) collection; the Lydman and Snukal Collections of Chinese ceramics; Southeast Asian ceramics from the Collection of Margot and Hans Ries; and the complete prints of Paul Jacoulet. The Harari Collection (acquired over a series of years, from 1985 to 2008),  and the Nancy King collection of Himalayan art (accessioned in 2001) that featured 52 works of art, including Buddha and Bodhisattva images and ritual objects from the Himalayan region, specifically Nepal and Tibet. In recent years USC PAM has accepted donations from Tsuruya Kokei, a contemporary Japanese printmaker, of his most recent prints, and a donation of 42 objects from the Jim and Jeanne Pieper Collection, which highlights religious and ceremonial arts from China, Japan, India, and Southeast Asia. The Charles T. Townley collection of contemporary Chinese art, comprising 159 objects, has been an important recent addition to the USC PAM permanent collection. It greatly enhances the representation of contemporary art at USC PAM. The addition of this collection is helping to shape our collecting practices moving forward, as we look to expand the representation of living artists at USC PAM. Through its collections, USC PAM’s goal is to promote the breadth and depth of the arts of Asia.

The museum’s historic building, a centerpiece of the permanent collection, has served as a cultural center in Pasadena since its construction in 1924 by Grace Nicholson as her home and gallery.

Artworks On View

Please note that not all collection items are on display in the galleries due to space restriction and sensitivity of certain works on paper, silk, lacquer and other materials.

Please refer to “Artworks on View” under “Search the Collection” for objects currently on view in the galleries.